The following sections describe the initial actions that are needed before the more useful tutorials in other sections can be run. Each tutorial lists the prerequisites.

Installing python

Estimated time: 15 minutes

First, get a package management system. Recommended is miniconda (conda): Conda quickly installs, runs and updates packages and their dependencies.

You can check if you have this successfully by going to the terminal and doing:

$ which conda

You may need to log out and log back in before you’re able to access the conda command.

Start a virtual environment

Use miniconda to create a virtual environment, a restricted workspace where your programs and processes can operate without affecting everything on your computer. Create an environment called flywheel (or something else unique and memorable), in the terminal:

$ conda create -n flywheel anaconda python=3

At the prompt for which packages to install, type y and hit enter. It’s better to have them all, and they will not take up a lot of space on your machine:

$ wurlitzer          pkgs/main/osx-64::wurlitzer-1.0.2-py37_0
$ xlrd               pkgs/main/osx-64::xlrd-1.2.0-py37_0
$ xlsxwriter         pkgs/main/noarch::xlsxwriter-1.1.8-py_0
$ xlwings            pkgs/main/osx-64::xlwings-0.15.8-py37_0
$ xlwt               pkgs/main/osx-64::xlwt-1.3.0-py37_0
$ xz                 pkgs/main/osx-64::xz-5.2.4-h1de35cc_4
$ yaml               pkgs/main/osx-64::yaml-0.1.7-hc338f04_2
$ zeromq             pkgs/main/osx-64::zeromq-4.3.1-h0a44026_3
$ zict               pkgs/main/noarch::zict-1.0.0-py_0
$ zipp               pkgs/main/noarch::zipp-0.5.1-py_0
$ zlib               pkgs/main/osx-64::zlib-1.2.11-h1de35cc_3
$ zstd               pkgs/main/osx-64::zstd-1.3.7-h5bba6e5_0

$ Proceed ([y]/n)?

Activate your environment, so that any packages you install or use stay restricted to this project:

$ conda activate <your_environment_name>

If you ran the conda create command above, you would replace <your_environment_name> with flywheel.

You can make lots of conda environments. It makes sense to have a single environment for Flywheel, but you may want to make separate environments if you’re using Python for analysis.

Install Jupyter

Many of the tutorials here will display Python commands as if they were being entered in an interactive python session (i.e. with a leading >>> or ... if the line is a continuation). If you install jupyter, you can paste these directly into a jupyter console session.

$ conda install jupyter
$ jupyter console
Jupyter console 6.0.0

Python 3.7.2 (default, Dec 29 2018, 00:00:04)
Type 'copyright', 'credits' or 'license' for more information
IPython 7.2.0 -- An enhanced Interactive Python. Type '?' for help.

In [1]:  

You can now directly paste the Python code (>>> included) into the console and it will be run correctly.

Installing an editor

Writing easily-readable code is very important. A good editor will help you check your code’s syntax and can provide hints as you write. One great way to get started is to use the Atom text editor. A version should be available for your operating system.

Atom lets you install packages that add functionality to the editor. If you go to Preferences > Packages, you can search for and install a package called ide-python that will help with python development.